My respected elders, mothers and fathers; beloved youth of our land; brothers and sisters in Islam; comrades and friends of the Bo-Kaap; thalamus alaykum!
I bring you greetings of this year in which we celebrate 100 years of the life and legacy of (former) president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Madiba loved Bo-Kaap. He loved the people of the Bo-Kaap and loved what this place symbolises for our nation. I am sure he would have loved to be with us tonight as we delight in breaking our fast and in celebrating the Palestinian struggle; a cause very close to his heart.
Tonight you are making history and Ramadaan 1439 will be remembered as another great moment and milestone in the life of this community. The moment when you as youth have come to the fore and shown the world what you are capable of doing. This collective breaking of the day’s fasting or boeka as we know it here in the Cape is not only an act of sharing with each other it is also symbolic of the love we have for each other.
For this reason, I am overjoyed to be in your midst this evening and to see so many youth united in action for a good cause. This spells good for the community of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, Western Cape and South Africa because you are the future.
The Bo-Kaap had a special place in my grandfather’s heart just as it has a special place in our hearts. This is because of its unique history and the place it occupies in our long walk to freedom. I have no doubt that you are all very familiar with this history. It is a history you can all be proud of. It is a history of defiance and struggle against slavery, oppression and injustice. It is also a history of victory and triumph in which we celebrate that which makes us truly unique. Allow me to acknowledge, applaud and thank the leadership of Bo-Kaap Youth for organising this gathering of so many young people. Tonight, we celebrate your vision and determination to make a difference in this community.
Thirty years ago if we gathered so many people together on the streets of Bo-Kaap our gathering would have constituted an illegal gathering. We would have been harassed by riot police and sprayed with teargas and water cannons. We would have been sjambokked and chased like dogs. We would have been shot at with rubber bullets if not buckshot and live ammunition. I remind you of this not to tell you about our painful past, but to tell you what our Palestinian brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, young and old are experiencing every day in occupied Palestine and the cruelty meted out to them on a daily basis by the brutal apartheid Israel regime.
On May 15, 2018 our brothers and sisters in Palestine commemorated 70 years of the Nakba, the Great Catastrophe. On that day in 1948 Muslim, Christian and Orthodox Jews fought side by side against Zionist occupation, a struggle that we pursue as a collective to this day.
May 15 also reminded us of the many Palestinian villages that were wiped out; homes and farms that were either destroyed or illegally occupied. It reminded us of the thousands of Palestinians who have been held captive in jail, tortured, maimed and experiencing the worst forms of abuse imaginable. It reminded us of the brave 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi and other children being held in apartheid Israel prisons in violation of international law. Most of all it reminded us of the 6 million Palestinians scattered all over the world as refugees denied the right of return to the country of their birth.
Like you are gathered here tonight in Bo-Kaap, Palestinians young and old decided to have a peaceful Right of Return March. The response from apartheid Israel was cruel and brutal. In total 111 Palestinians were martyred and more than 2700 were injured with as many as 32 people permanently losing their limbs through amputation.
This gathering tonight sends a strong message of hope to our suffering Palestinian brothers and sisters that one day they too shall enjoy the fruits of their brave and courageous struggle. Tonight, they are in our hearts and in our prayers. We see their suffering and their tears and we feel their pain and hardship. That is what we have endured for 350 years of colonial occupation here in Bo-Kaap and all over South Africa and indeed the African continent.
Tonight, we say for all the world to hear that Palestine will be free in our lifetime. We say to our youth in Palestine that we stand by you and your just struggle; your struggle is our struggle. Tonight, Bo-Kaap Youth sends a strong message to the youth of Palestine that we shall also join you and celebrate the joys of Ramadaan on the streets with you as we have done here in Bo-Kaap.
We shall join you on the streets of Gaza, we shall join you on the streets of Ramallah, we shall join you on the streets of Hebron Al Khalil, we shall join you on the streets of Jerusalem, we shall join you in the celebrations in the grand courtyard of Masjid Al Aqsa, we shall join you in the eternal capital of Jerusalem, Al Quds and we shall join you in a free Palestine.
Youth of Bo-Kaap: Today, is the last Friday of Ramadaan a day in which we join together with millions all over the world in an act of international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
We remind ourselves of (then) president Nelson Mandela’s promise that “our freedom shall remain incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people”. The question therefore is what is to be done? What can we do as Bo-Kaap Youth and what can the youth of South Africa do to support the Palestinian struggle?
Firstly, we must stand together and act united as you have done here on the streets of Bo-Kaap this Ramadaan. We must be united in our diversity just as the many colourful homes of the Bo-Kaap makes one community. We must unite in our action for a free Palestine.
Secondly, we must ensure that the spirit of sacrifice and struggle that we has been nurtured in our youth and our community during Ramadaan motivates us to continue this programme of action beyond Ramadaan and throughout the year. Let us conscientise our youth about the struggle for a free Palestine. The Bo-Kaap Youth can make us proud by making this area a no-go zone for all apartheid Israel products. Let us make this community the strongest voice for the BDS; the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment against apartheid Israel.
Thirdly, let us fly a Palestinian flag on every street of Bo-Kaap if not on every home. When the world comes here to see the historic Slave Quarter, let us make them aware and tell them that our Palestinian brothers and sisters are still being subjected to occupation, brutality and genocide by apartheid Israel.
Fourthly, the Bo-Kaap Youth must join us in calling for the immediate and unconditional implementation of the ANCs 54th National Conference resolution to downgrade diplomatic relations.
I want you to join me in repeating my call for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from South Africa and cutting all ties with apartheid Israel. We have no business supporting apartheid Israel. Next week we must rally support and call on our leaders at the BRICS Summit to place an arms embargo on apartheid Israel.
Fifthly, we say to Mmusi Maimane and all in the DA who continue to support apartheid Israel, we will not support you.
Our freedom is not for sale and the freedom of the Palestinian people is not for sale!
Viva Bo-Kaap Youth Viva! Viva Palestine Viva! Down with apartheid Israel Down!
* This is an edited version of Mandla Mandela’s Speech delivered at the Bo-Kaap Youth Street Boeka (breaking of the fast) on June 8.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.